Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 review

Cheap AirPod Pro rivals with great ANC skills and big sound
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Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2
By Huawei
The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 deliver big, versatile sound and clear call quality along with offering great ANC support, especially given the price. Battery life isn't fantastic and we didn't love the controls either. If you want a pair of truly wireless earbuds that can handle audio, calls and blocking out the world too for less than Apple and Samsung's Pro buds though, these are well worth looking at.

Hit
  • Big, customisable sound
  • Great ANC support
  • App works with Android and iOS
Miss
  • Fiddly stem controls
  • Battery life with ANC not great
  • Fit for some exercise

The Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 are the successor to the FreeBuds Pro, which launched back in 2020.

For this latest instalment, Huawei promises even better active noise cancellation, improved overall sound thanks in part to French audio company Devialet, and they'll can even handle high resolution audio.

They're fit to work with both Android phones and iPhones and at £169/€199, they come in considerably cheaper than Apple's AirPods Pro and Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro. There's no official US pricing once again, just like the previous FreeBuds Pro, but we imagine they'll be available via Amazon pretty soon after launch.

We're definitely not short of great sounding, truly wireless headphones that promise solid ANC and scope to tinker with that sound to better suit your ears.

Has Huawei broken new ground and delivered a great set of truly wireless earbuds? Here's our verdict on the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2.

Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2: Design, fit and controls

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Design-wise, the FreeBuds definitely have more than a bit of Apple AirPods Pro about them. They come in three different colors with ceramic white, silver blue and silver frost your options and the case alone could be mistaken for the one that houses Apple's top-end truly wireless earbuds.

The buds themselves have a short, stubby look, that aren't quite as slender as Apple's, but they're smaller and lighter than the original FreeBuds Pro and sit comfortably in the ears. That dropdown in size is also true of that charging case as well.

Huawei throws in small, medium and large ear tips to achieve an optimal fit with a Tip fit test in Huawei's AI Life companion phone app in place to make you get the best fit. We found the medium tips provided a good seal generally and they provided a pretty reliable fit in most scenarios.

We say pretty reliable, because when putting them to exercise use, particularly in more strenuous, sweaty workouts, we did on occasion have to just nudge them slightly back int place. They never fell out, but sometimes getting them sweaty can cause problems.

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Thankfully, they do carry an IP54, making them water, splash and dust resistant in what Huawei deems 'normal conditions'. That protection doesn't extend to the case, but it's good to know you do have some added protection if you want to work out with them.

Outside of exercise, the fit was perfectly fine. On trains, walks and working at a laptop, these buds do the job of staying put.

While not immediately noticeable, Huawei does include controls on these buds, which are built into the stems of the buds. These work by pinching the stems to do things like answer calls, play/pause music and skip back and forth through your music.

Those stem controls feel Apple inspired again, though we can't say they're executed as well. They just didn't feel responsive on most occasions and multiple pinches or pinch and hold always felt a bit of a challenge. You've really got to work to find that sweet pinching spot.

As we mentioned, the case is now smaller and magnetically holds the buds in place when not in use. There's a USB-C charging port at the base, next to single LED light to indicate battery and pairing status. While hard to spot, there's also a physical button on the side of the case when you need to pair to your chosen device for the first time.

They're good-looking buds, with a pocket-friendly case and controls that work best when stationary as they become more challenging to interact with on the move.

Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2: Features and sound quality

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Upping things in the sound department, whether that's for music or calls, is the main priority in terms of what the FreeBuds Pro 2 are capable of. They certainly can deliver on both those fronts, with a bit of tinkering we'd say.

Huawei says it's using a new dual-speaker setup, which combines the kind of dynamic driver you typically find in earbuds with a planar diaphragm one, which is usually found inside of high-end headphones.

By doubling up on drivers, Huawei aims to deliver richer sound and bigger bass. It's teamed up with Devialet, an audio company Huawei has worked with on previous audio hardware to help on the audio tuning side of things and help to achieve that audiophile-like sound.

Out of the box, the buds sound very good. Spend time playing around with the preset sound profiles or creating your own, and you get something much more rewarding.

The default sound profile co-created with Devialet definitely seeks to pull out more detail and enhance those trebles and mids. Jump into bass boost mood and you do get a pleasing thud of bass and power. These are buds that sound well across the spectrum.

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That also extends to calls too, where there's support for HD calls in the companion app and the four microphones included work to pick up voices and drown out ambient noise. The call quality was very good overall even when handling calls over WhatsApp and Zoom, so that's definitely a strength here.

You've also got active noise cancellation and awareness modes, when you need to drown out the world or need to hear of a mix of your own audio and environmental noise as well. Huawei is using three of the onboard microphones to deliver that ANC mode.

From the app, you can adjust that noise cancelling, with your pick of dynamic, cost, general and ultra noise cancelling modes to vary the level of noise cancellation. So Dynamic automatically adjusts noise cancelling based on surroundings and ultra should be enabled for very noisy places.

We used the buds on train journeys, in the gym to battle in the speakers and running in noisy, windy environments and found the noise cancellation was very impressive. Especially given how much these cost. It held up in all of the noisy scenarios we put it to the test and this is definitely one of the FreeBuds Pro 2's major strengths.

There's a few other smarts lurking inside of Huawei's AI Life app, which we tested on an iPhone and Android phone and found the experience very consistent. You'll also find a mode to track down your earphones if they go missing and they also support high resolution audio playback as well.

Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2: Battery life

The battery life you can expect to get from the FreeBuds Pro 2 entirely depends on whether you bring ANC into play. With those cancelling features in play, battery life is 4 hours, which isn't all that fantastic. When you ditch ANC, it jumps up to 6.5 hours.

You put that into context of other truly wireless earbuds with ANC available at this price or for less, this isn't the best battery numbers you can enjoy with ANC in play. That's also slightly less battery life with ANC compared to Apple's AirPods Pro.

We'd say those numbers do ring true based on our testing. About an hour of listening to music with ANC on saw the battery drop over 20%. You do have that charging case too, which gives you 18 hours in total when ANC is used and 30 hours without it. It also supports reverse charging, so you can use drop it onto the back of compatible phones and tablets to power up the buds inside the case.

There's wireless charging here as well and in terms of charting times, you're looking at 1 hour charging up the case via the USB-C cable, 40 minutes when the buds are in the case and 120 minutes charging the charging case on a wireless charger.


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Michael Sawh

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Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.


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